Top cuts for Brisbane food lovers

Here's this week's bumper E,d+bK newsletter with plenty of links to great stories that you might have missed.


Top cut for Brisbane food lovers


Keep it clean for latte love

Australia is no longer the home of the bushie, it’s the home of the barista!

We are a nation of coffee drinkers; by 2013 we will spend more than $800 million on coffee, and that’s not including takeaway coffees or coffees consumed in a cafe.

Given the rise and rise of the home barista, the espresso experts at Merlo have titled June 1 national Clean Your Coffee Machine Day, the day of the year where your coffee machine gets a whole latte love! K2 - this is a job for you Honey!

So if you can't find the instructions that came with your coffee machine, here's some great tips from Merlo’s chief espresso expert Dean Merlo , who knows a thing or two about cleaning a coffee machine. His dad Gino introduced the very first espresso machine to Queensland in 1958, and Dean established the first torrefazione - an Italian style roasting house - in Fortitude Valley in 1996. Merlo has since grown into one of the country’s leading espresso coffee companies, now boasting six torrefaziones, and eight barmerlos.

“Like anything else, deciding to become a home barista comes with responsibilities, and cleaning your coffee machine is the biggest one,” he said. “A machine needs cleaning every 4 to 6 months, at the very least once a year. It’s simple and makes such a difference to your coffee – there’s no excuse for bad coffee! Without regular, simple cleaning, you could be in for unnecessary spending. However, if you commit to the title of home barista properly, and follow these few simple steps, you can add years on to the life of your much loved machine, which will thank you with cup after cup of cafe quality coffee,” he said.

So this Friday, June 1 – clean your coffee machine! A full PDF of instructions can be found at, with the top tips below:

Signs that your machine is overdue for a clean:

•    The coffee seems to be taking longer and longer to brew (that may mean your machine is losing pressure)
•    Your cups of coffee are beginning to taste burnt (a build up of dried coffee and milk)
•    The machine or milk frother is making unusual noises and not performing consistently
•    People simply aren’t complimenting you on your cuppa anymore. :(

To clean your coffee machine:

•    Fill your machine’s water tank with 1 litre of water and either 50mL of liquid descaler or 1 Cleancaf descaler tablet (espresso machine cleaner – both available for purchase at Merlo and
•    Run a brew cycle through the machine until the water tank is empty
•    Ensure you take time during the brew cycle to open the steamer and allow the descaler solution running through it to clean it of any dried milk
•    Refill water tank with clean water only (do not add descaler) and repeat cycle
•    To ensure the taste of cleaning products doesn’t carry onto your next cups of coffee, brew three cups of coffee, and dispose immediately

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid post - simply good information - Enjoy.


Is sake the new sauvignon blanc?

Sauvignon blanc or sake? Is that the question you'll be asked next time you order a drink?

Although not a personal favorite, sauvignon blanc seems to be the drink of choice for many when wine is on the list. It's seen as an easy no brainer, a wine that suits most palates and goes with most anything. I've been in chain store bottle shops where the rows of sav blanc have outnumbered all other whites by three to one.

However Sake Master Toshi Maeda believes it won't be long before sake is offered with as much availability and enthusiasm as overdone sauvignon blanc.

"There are sake bars opening everywhere," he says.

And indeed, he was in Brisbane for the opening of a new Sake bar at the newly renovated Wagamama in the Wintergarden, CBD.

Toshi, who hails from Melbourne, obviously has a deep love for sake and a vested interest in its success. Originally from Kobe, Japan, Toshi arrived in Australia in 1996 to stay for a year and study English. Australia got under his skin and 10 years later he's still in Melbourne, now the owner of the famed Japanese Izakaya style restaurant, Maedaya.

Toshi strongly believes that the quality, variety and complexity of Japanese sake is almost equal or even greater than Western wine.  He is determined to help Australian people enjoy sake in a similar way to wine and takes his role as a Sake Master very seriously.

Are you thinking about your last sake experience (probably many years ago) and shaking your head doubtfully?

Well sake has changed.  The word is that much of the sake that hit Australian shores in the early days, up to 30 years ago, was very low grade stuff dumped on an unsuspecting audience.  Now there's a big surprise - I mean the idea of dumping low quality product on our shores is hardly unique to sake, it it?

Anyway the scene is new and it's time to give sake a try.

The new look Wagamama in the Wintergarden is sleek and contemporary with long, shared wooden benches along side cosy booths.  Modelled on traditional ramen noddle bars popular in Japan for decades, wagamama offers a fusion of Japanese-inspired dishes.

Here's the sake we tried -

Kizakura Hoshinonagare Sparkling Junmai - naturally carbonated and slightly clouded pure sparkling sake made from rice with a hint of grapefruit and a bit of yogurt.  Served chilled. Toshi described this as a new style of sake similar to champagne.

Asabiraki Namburyu Densho Zukuri Daiginjo - beautiful and fragrant, super premium Daiginjo sake with a dry, crisp finish. Brewed by Japan's largest sake brewing guild, Nambu Toji, at a very low temperature. I liked the green apple and melon notes and the creamy after taste.

Tateyama Junmai Ginjo - clean, smooth and fruity premium Junmai Ginjo sake from Toyama's most famous sake brewer Tateyama. Beautiful nashi/apple fragrance with slightly dry finish. One to pair with seafood.

Rikaku Junmai - clean and very complex flavoured premium junmai sake from Shimiane's legendary sake brewer Rihaku. Quiet fragrance and sweet smokey flavour of roasted chestnuts and bitterness of cacao. Best at room temperature.

Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi - traditional long term fermented sake which is smooth, rich and semi dry from Kyoto, Japan. Serve warmed around 40-45C.

Choya Umeshu with Ume plum fruit - 100 per cent ume fruit liquor (Japanese plum/apricot) from Osaka, Japan.  Serve this one after the meal or used as a cocktail base. This is a sweet sake I could really get to like.

Want to know more about sake -


Italian Week in Brisbane

Opera, gnocchi, limocello and accordion music - it doesn't get much more Italian than this in Brisbane.  Throw in a cobbled laneway and a high profile Italian chef and it's la dolce vita.

Launching this year's Italian Week (May 23 - June 2) was an Italian Alfresco Feast cooked by a master of modern Italian cuisine, Stefano Manfredi, and served in a cobbled lane way. Or that was the plan - unfortunately unseasonal rain caused the event to be moved inside the Treasury Casino & Hotel but clever staging meant the move did not detract from the dinner.

Celebrating its fifth year, Italian Week offers an insight into the modern Italy and shares Italian culture and lifestyle.

Stefano Manfredi's menu showcased Italian olives and oils from several regions, gnocchi made to his mother's recipe (but never quite as good according to Stefano), achingly tender shoulder of lamb and a special 'street food' dessert from Western Tuscany that is eaten with your hands.
Stefano Manfredi chats with new member for Brisbane Central Robert Cavallucci and Treasury Casino and Hotel General Manager Geoff Hogg

I chatted with Stefano about his restaurant at The Star and the roof top garden where he grows cavello nero and other hard-to-get vegetable additions to the menu. Could Sydney's high rise buildings be an untapped resource for frustrated veggie farmers? A bird's eye view would be interesting.

Here's what we ate -

Olives from three different Italian regions -

Hand made grisini
Finely sliced raw fish dressed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil
Poached veal with tuna and caper sauce
Toasted ciabatta with mushrooms, parsley and garlic.
Pistillo Offida Pecorino 1020 (Region: Marche)
The famous gnocchi with a duck ragu
Ca Di Frara Pinot Nero DOC 2009 (Region: Lombardia)
Wood-grilled lamb shoulder, herbs, breadcrumbs.
La Ladra Barbera d'Asti Superiore DOC 2005 (Region: Piedmonte)
Chestnut crepes filled with sweet ricotta
Congratulations to Treasury Casino & Hotel General Manager Geoff Hogg and his team for pulling off the quick venue change with aplomb and a creating delightful evening.

Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of the Treasury Casino & Hotel.


Discover ground to table at Delectable

There was such excitement in the air at the official unveiling of Brisbane's first full on food festival.

Launching Delectable (16-29 July) at Tank was Creative Producer Anthony Bastic, gardening guru Phil Dudman and celebrity chef Alastair McLeod.

Delectable will be a showcase for the State’s food, produce and musical talent with a 14 day program from Monday 16 to Sunday 29 July, featuring some of Queensland’s and Australia’s best known food and gardening personalities.

Australia is well serviced by food festivals but Delectable is taking a different path with a strong emphasis on ground to table.  Brisbane's CBD will be transformed to show us how to grow food in our own back yard and how to turn it into delicious meals. 

I'm looking forward to learning about vertical gardens for my inner city plot and watching top chefs team up with top rural producers and tasting the results.

And I can't imagine a better time to have a food festival than during our glorious winter month of July with clear blue skies and balmy midday sun.  I bet we'll even see some 'silly southerners' heading into the water for a swim! Best that they just enjoy the sunshine on our beaches.

The festival program kicks off with the seventh annual national delicious Produce Awards, then heats up with an array of public food and music events, indoor and outdoor installations, expert talks and presentations across the Brisbane CBD and South Bank.

Congratulations to Creative Producer Anthony Bastic and his team on creating an amazing Delectable program.

Key events include:
· delicious. Produce Awards 2012 gala celebration (16 July)
· Regional Flavours weekend at South Bank - showcasing over 100 of
Queensland’s best food and wine producers from 12 different growing regions
(21-22 July)
· Chef demonstrations @ The Hub, South Bank Cultural Forecourt (21-28 July)
· Night Garden: Projections - 3D mapped projections on The Wheel of Brisbane
and QPAC Towers, South Bank (20-29 July)- these should look amazing!
· delicious. does dinner @ Stokehouse, hosted by Valli Little (25 July)
· Garden talks @ Main Stage featuring Australia’s leading garden experts,
horticulturalists and Queensland growers (21-28 July)
· GROW in the City – a living vertical garden in Brisbane’s CBD (18-29 July)
· FOOD BOWL @ City Botanic Gardens - a tasting experience from Brisbane’s
best restaurants - and SOUNDS @ Riverstage (29 July).
a celebration of ground to table

Here's a look at the program

The range of gastronomic events and experiences will give Queensland producers and chefs an opportunity to showcase their innovation, excellence and diversity, while highlighting the vibrancy of Brisbane’s food scene.

Visitors to the inaugural festival will have the chance to learn from the State’s leading chefs, including David Pugh, Alastair McLeod, Nick Holloway, Caroline Jones, Shinichi Maeda, Javier Codina, Pablo Tordesillas, Annette Fear and Ben O’Donoghue. Also showcasing the best of Queensland produce will be guest chefs from interstate including Matt Moran, Poh Ling Yeow, Luke Nguyen, Damien Pignolet, Matthew Evans, Miguel Maestre, Damian Heads, Justin North, and Valli Little.

Alastair McLeod explained how exciting the festival will be for Chefs

The musical line-up for the Riverstage includes guest stars Marina Prior, David Hobson and Guy Noble with Queensland Symphony Orchestra, with free musical programming at South Bank provided by the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Phil Dudman can't resist his greens!

The gardening program will hear from the Garden Guru Phil Dudman and Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis, Jennifer Stackhouse, Colin Campbell and Jerry Coleby-Williams.

delectable offers both free and ticketed events - tickets on sale from 24 May 2012.
More information and tickets are available at or or


Tasty bits from bmag

Latest food news for Brisbane - James Street food update, Little Dumplings in Bulimba, A Game Feast at Victoria Park Golf Complex, Italian Alfresco Feast on Friday at Treasury Casino, Taste of Column June 22-24.

London Xpress Cafe, Woolloongabba

My love affair with telephone boxes has waxed and waned boosted by images of  Doctor Who (preferably the dashing Peter Davison not the overdone Tom Baker) emerging from the Tardis and knocked down by the reality of smelly, vandalised roadside call boxes.

Even in the UK it's hard to find one now days which makes the telephone box styled entrance to London Xpress even more poignant for expats and lovers of curious anomalies.

Positioned in the thriving top precinct of Logan Road, London Xpress is a little different from it's neighbours Pearl, Canvas, 1889 Enotecca and Crosstown Eating House.  It's really just a simple cafe with a theme of British food.

Owners Jay 'coffeenoisseur' and Satty 'coffeenista' Bassi are British by birth with origins in Liverpool and Yorkshire. Jay has lived in Australia for 14 years and Satty for four years. Both have experience in hospitality and readily extend a welcome to their customers.

The cafe menu includes normal burgers and pies but also some specials that will put a smile on an ex-pom's face like pork pies, cornish pasties, linconshire sausages, eccels cakes and bakewell tarts. Most of these are imported from a manufacturer on the Gold Coast.

I tried a cornish pastie, bakewell tart and eccels cake.  All were perfectly acceptable commercial quality but I would love to taste home made versions of the same.

Only open for a few weeks, the cafe is still finding it's place. Satty has plans to import sweets from the UK including chocolate limes and bon bons along with drinks like Tizer, Irn-brew and Tango.

There will also be a take home selection with tea bags, pork pies and sausages.

The coffee is Aromas and I did like the sweet touch of crushed Flake chocolate on top.

Football fans will be overjoyed by the big screen on the wall and plans to open London Express for breakfast on mornings when games start early. There's also free wifi.

Bottom line: The British twist lifts this cafe above the ordinary, just. Coffee was good.

London Xpress,
22 Logan Road, Woolloongabba ph 3161 8989
Open seven days from 6.30am
London Express,
22 Logan Road, Woolloongabba. 3161 8989


Petaluma winemaker's dinner at Sake

One of the joys of my job is being invited to special dinners and the Petaluma Winemaker's Dinner at Sake is one pleasure I'll remember for a while.

I really enjoy the clean fresh flavours of Japanese food and the light handed cooking style however my partner, K2, is not such a fan.  He's still dealing with a double brush with ciguatera from his youth and his eyes glaze over at the thought of raw or semi cooked fish.  But he's a trooper and no doubt lured by the thought of a night of exceptional wines, he agreed to come with me.  And the up side of this is that I always get to eat his oysters!

Before we adjourned to Sake's private dining room we met the delightful Penny Jones, one of Petaluma's wine makers. Penny has been working for Petaluma for seven years and says she spends most of her time at the winery working rather than attending dinners and looking glamorous.

Listen to her stories about working during the winery's busy period with 12 hour shifts six days a week,  and that's not including the change over time, and you'd have to agree that it's a job for people with passion.

Here's the seven course dinner which was prepared by Head Chef Shinichi Maeda -

white soy snapper matched with Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2010
Steamed prawn dumplings matched with Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2004
Tempura Oyster with Japanese tartare matched with Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 1999

Ocean trout belly nigiri - Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2009

Miso marinated chicken with Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2009
Beef teriyaki with sauteed shiitake and buckwheat with Petaluma Shiraz 2005
Yuzu tart with Petaluma Botrytis Sauvignon Semillon 2010
This wine is still waiting for its formal label.
45 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane CBD.

 Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Sake.